Newsletter 5 February 2016

Dear supporters and members

At the Save Our Bank campaign we started 2016 following a successful crowdfunding campaign and with the resources we need to set up the Customer Union for Ethical Banking. We’re waiting for the lawyers to settle some final details and hopefully we will have an official customer union in place within a couple of weeks. At the same time we’re working hard to update the website so that people will be able to register and join the union on line.

Meanwhile, an update on our campaigning to stop the Co-op Bank closing accounts for groups supporting Palestinians and others in places which the bank has said do not suit its “risk appetite” – and some more positive news below.

Bank still needs to respond on account closures

In December we told you about our meeting with the bank about their account closures for community groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its local support groups, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and others. The bank told us it has paused account closures while it reviews its communications, and promised us a further response to the points we had raised.

The bank has not yet come back to us. Meanwhile over 6,000 people have signed our petition on the bank to stop account closures and do more to help groups providing aid and support to ‘high risk’ destinations. If you haven’t already done so, please sign and share the petition, and help keep the pressure up!

One of the groups that has had its account closed by the bank is Friends of Al-Aqsa, a UK based NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians. They say they do not transfer money outside the UK, and that the bank has refused to engage in any discussion with them. They are urging people to contact the Co-op and request that they reverse their decision to close the account. You can check out their campaign, and ways you can help, here.

“Everyday rewards” for existing customers

While we’re here to lobby the Co-op Bank to uphold its ethical principles and to work towards a return to co-operative ownership, we also want to give credit where it is due – and we think the Co-op Bank’s new Everyday Rewards scheme deserves some credit.

The scheme gives existing and new current account customers between £4 and £5.50 a month in rewards (so, up to £66 a year), provided you pay in at least £800 a month and meet other conditions like staying within the terms of your overdraft limit and opting for paperless statements. It’s good to see the bank rewarding loyal customers, and the bank says it has co-developed the product with its customers in line with the new Ethical Policy.

You can also choose to donate your reward to one of five charities: Amnesty International, Hospice UK, Oxfam, Refuge or Woodland Trust. You can ring the bank to opt into the scheme.

Perhaps it is moves like this that have helped the Co-op Bank be named as “most improved brand” of 2015, (together with, ahem, Wonga).

Best wishes from the Save Our Bank team

The Art of Financial Hacking workshop: 10% discount for Save Our Bank supporters

Stir To Action, an organisation that explores co-operative and community-led alternatives, is running a 3-day "Deep Dive into the Art of Financial Hacking" workshop in May 2016 on the Dorset coast, led by Save our Bank supporter and financial activist Brett Scott. They have got in touch to offer a 10% discount for Save our Bank campaigners, which you can redeem by booking through this link: http://bit.ly/20m2LNS

Take Action!

Sign the petition: tell Co-op Bank to stop closing accounts of Palestine and other support groups

Dear @CoopBankUK, re-open @FriendsofAlAqsa ‘s bank account and stop account closures! #SaveOurBank http://www.foa.org.uk/campaigns/co-operative-bank-closes-foa-bank-account

Tell @CoopBankUK to stop closing accounts of Palestine and other support groups!  Nearly 7,000 signatures. http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/co-op-bank-stop-closing-accounts-o...